Friday, May 29, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Remember how cute Daisy used to be? Now every day for her is a bad hair day. She's starting to look more like a blond javelina with fur.

Found this in our front yard yesterday. Tarantulas are commonplace here and protected because they're so beneficial. They will eat scorpions, which, unfortunately are also beneficial. Not sure how but everything has its place under the Arizona sun. We try to kill as little as possible but a scorpion in the house is most unwanted. Tarantulas tend to nail 'em outside before they come in. This one, by the way, we call "Mr. T." A very friendly fellow. You can put your hand down and it will crawl right up on it. A bit creepy but interesting.
On the other hand, rattlesnakes "ain't" man's best friend. This one was stuffed and turned into an ashtray and with two others we just kept the rattles. So far this spring we've seen four rattlesnakes, mostly flattened in the road. We won't kill them but we do try our best to avoid them. The trick will be to try to keep Daisy away if we encounter one in the yard or on a trail.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

"Taking Chance" on Memorial Day

Like many Americans, you've probably at one time or another used the expression "gung ho", which means venturing into an activity with enthusiam and gusto. The term comes from a shortened version of a Mandarin Chinese phrase for "working together". "Gung ho", along with "once a Marine, always a Marine", is one of several Marine Corps mottos.

This morning, Paul and I were "gung ho" about tuning into an HBO made-for-TV movie called "Taking Chance". It is the true story of a Marine Corps Lt/Col. (played by Kevin Bacon) who volunteers for escort duty, accompanying the remains of a fallen Marine PFC home to Wyoming for burial.

It's the sort of docu-drama/movie that could have been very corny and overdone with a smattering of jabs at the military but it was reverent and very moving. Anyone watching with a heart and a brain comes away with a renewed appreciation for the sacrifices made on our behalf by the men and women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The young fallen Marine, Chance Phelps, was only twenty years old when his convoy in Iraq was hit by an IED. It's a movie that I'm sure will be playing on HBO for some days to come. It's very much worth the approximately 75 minutes it takes to sit down and watch it. Have Kleenex on hand. You'll likely need it.

The movie depicts the incredible care and attention given to our fallen men and women. And if it's an accurate depiction, the love and reverence paid to the remains every step of the way on that final journey home.

Paul (former Marine) made a comment about his experience working at the Alameda Naval Air Station as a civilian aircraft mechanic in 1967 and '68. He remembers seeing the big military cargo planes landing and rolling up to the tarmac to offload the bodies of the Vietnam dead. The metal coffins were laid out on the asphalt, sometimes as many as fifty of them. There was no ceremony and then the individual funeral homes would damn near fight over the bodies.

It's good to see that things have changed and our servicemen and women are getting the praise and attention they deserve.

If you have a few spare dollars lying around, do something good with them. Give to the Semper Fi Fund for wounded Marines and their families and/or to an organization like the Marines' Memorial Club in San Francisco. It's a hotel/club for veterans and active duty servicemen and women that's a few blocks off Union Square. This four-star hotel is among the nicest in the city for the price and provides deep discounts to Marines, sailors, and soldiers who may not be able to afford the regular room rates. Marines' Memorial also has an on-site museum and library. It devotes most of its wall space to honoring our fighting men and women with plaques, photos and other memorabilia. In homage to my dad, Allen L. Gravitt, a Marine Corps Sgt. in World War II and Korea, my family and I dedicated a plaque in his honor.

I love the fact that Marines' Memorial is in that barely livable, socialist/communist nutball, seditious city of San Francisco. The city's a mess while Marines' Memorial is thriving.

Semper fidelis.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Back to the Big House, and I don't mean prison

This is shaping up to be quite the weekend.

My office. Where I hide from Sir Rantsalot.

Where Daisy hides. She's tucked away in the big green chair.

You can't see the dust but it's there.

Geesh, it's like we never left Sedona. While I returned for a couple of days post trailer trip to sort out the mail and make sure the house was still standing, last night was Paul's first time back here in three-and-half months.

Can't say anything much has changed. Our across-the-canyon neighbor repainted her house a soft sea foam green (remember, this part of Arizona was once under a vast prehistoric ocean) and a pile of building materials that was toppling over in someone's yard has been removed. It would have been there forever had not the other neighbors complained.

I miss the trailer life. Sure, the "big house" in Sedona is lovely but boy, it's a lot of work. The high desert is a dust-filled environment. Minute particles of dust blow in through the tiniest cracks in the windows and under doors. You can't really see it until the sun shines and then, bam! It covers the floors like a soft reddish carpet. On top of that I realize just how much stuff we have. And all of it needs to be dusted and cleaned and maintained.

The above musings aren't complaints but merely observations. Everyone should be as lucky as we are.


Our five-hour drive up here in the little Honda has Paul's back in spasms again. Pain down the left leg has sent him into another of his liberal tirades. The old fart has no pain threshhold and unfortunately it manifests into a rip-roaring rant against phony conservatives. His latest has to do with Miss California and her fake boobs and phony indignation about gay marriage. My "gaydar" is on and I think Mr. Ryan might have a bit of latent homosexuality coming out, so to speak. And he's back to wearing his flamboyant Home Depot orange lounge pants.

Now he's busting a gut over Joe the Plumber whose real name isn't even "Joe" nor is he a plumber...but a divorced father who has abandoned his family. A prime candidate to run with Sarah Palin as VP in 2012. Now there's a pair to draw to.

Dear Lord, please let Paul's pain come to an end so that mine will, too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Saved from certain death...

St. Francis of Assisi, Patron Saint of Animals
and friend of St. Clair, the saint of TELEVISION

Gambel's quail in Arizona

Quail baby--imagine twenty of them huddled and trembling under the Honda

This turned out to be quite the Sunday. It began quietly enough--Paul has the flu so isn't saying or doing much. I took Daisy for a walk and then had a prospective tenant look at the villa (it's for rent, you know). Paul said he needed some Theraflu to put his lights out so I, being the good girlfriend and wanting to leave the germ zone, made a beeline for the local Safeway drug aisle.

On the way back from my mission of mercy I turned onto the street that leads to our neighborhood. Suddenly, out in front of the car, I spotted a covey of baby quail. At least twenty of them, each no bigger than...well, than 1/4 of a baby chick. These little things are tiny! So there they were, huddled en masse under the Honda. I had already stopped the car in the middle of the street, the flock of babies trembling in fear and the parent quail sitting by the side of road, out of harm's way.

Two women in a car behind me stopped, too, when they saw the drama unfolding. Getting the babies safely back on land turned out to be more difficult than we figured. This being Arizona where no one is ever without a set of golf clubs, these women did not disappoint. One woman took a driver (that's a kind of golf club) out of her trunk and began to shoo each individual quail baby into my waiting hands. It took more than twenty minutes to rescue them. Not one was injured and all made it safely back to mom and dad.

As we began our rescue operation I said a quick prayer to St. Francis for his intercession and voila, it seemed to work. I wasn't hit by any of the other cars passing by, two guardian angels just happened to stop behind me with the right tools (golf clubs), and Paul was still breathing when I got home with the miracle drug, Nighttime Theraflu.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Okay, 'Fess Up

Daisy driving Miss Daisy and the rest of us to our next stop.

Our kitchen, media room and part of the bedroom in the background.

Villa for rent.

The villa living room. Did I tell you it's for rent?

This looks tempting but think of how long it takes to clean.

This is more like it.

I noticed in our latest blog poll -- "What's your greatest fear?" -- that someone out there actually fears "having to live in a trailer." Fess up. Who are you? Who among you is so high-falutin' that you tremble with the thought of living in less than 100 square feet? Come clean.

What you need to do to alter your thinking is to hang with us for awhile. A couple of days in our tiny rolling home on wheels and you'll discover that in many ways it beats having a house....a condo...or even a small, manageable villa like the one we own in Green Valley, which is for rent, by the way. So if you know anyone looking for a place to live down here...

Anyway, there is much good to be said about small spaces. You downsize in the extreme. Overall, it's much less expensive than bricks-and-mortar. A tiny space cleans up in a snap. It forces you to get along with your trailermate since there's no place to hide. There are no lawns to mow, hedges to trim, leaves to rake. Don't like your neighbors? Pick up and move.

There is nothing to fear. Trailers are cool. Give it a shot.